Review by Mr Creosote (2000-09-04)
Empire inspired a whole generation of programmers to do similar games. The concept is simple, yet addicting: Start with one city, build up an army and conquer the whole (unknown) world. That's it. Plain and simple. Maybe you've had this many times before, but certainly not often that well done!
Empire Deluxe stresses sea combat. There are far more ship types than different ground units or planes. Of course the cities are still the most important thing, but you have to get to all the islands first. And that's what you need a strong navy for. Cities aren't easy to defend anyway, because you can't fortify units in them. So an offensive strategy is more likely to be successful.
The different difficulty levels are extremely well done. More and more rules are introduced. It's very customizable, so that it can be suited to everyone. On higher levels there's even an economical component: The cities have different production capacities which can be increased or decreased by bombing them. In multiplayer games (real fun!) you can also choose handicaps for experienced players.
Beside the random maps, there are scenarios (most of them from the data disks). All kinds of battles are included: fictional, historical and even s-f ones. Don't expect real 'simulations' of historical wars. It's not at all realistic! But that's not, what the game is about. It's just quick fun. And the editor is really cool, too.
This 'Deluxe' version also features very good graphics in high resolutions. A big plus, because you can see MUCH of the map at once!
The only downside: The sound. I really don't understand how somebody could have had the idea of starting the so-called music again everytime you've moved a unit. Annoying!
You won't be disappointed!
There is a new version of this game called "Empire Deluxe Internet Edition" which is basically just the old game running on current Microsoft OS' and with Internet capabilities added.
Personally, I strongly dislike how system requirements of that game have been needlessly bloated and how you need a spyware OS to play it. Still, I want to support this effort, because it shows there are at least some people who still care for classic game concepts. Even at the cost of the original game disappearing from view. That is why we're not providing a download anymore. If you were searching for the classic DOS game, I'm sorry - we can't help you there.
Review by dogchainx (2015-01-10)
Empire Deluxe was released in the early 90s as a rewrite of the earlier Empire: Wargame of the Century game. Even though the game is pretty basic compared to many other strategy games of the day, it still won a lot of hearts during its release. So much so that Empire Deluxe is still sold commercially online! Back in the very early 90s, this was one of the few strategy games that sucked my time away. Let’s take a look at this classic…
The starting of a new game opens up a menu of what type of rules you want to play by: Basic, Standard, or Advanced. Basic pits you against a computer-controlled opponent in a 50x50 randomly generated world map. There’s no customization with Basic and the world map is fully visible to both players. The game has a very simple premise: Capture cities to build more units. You either win by capturing the enemy’s last city or they surrender. It’s quite straightforward, but when played with the STANDARD and ADVANCED modes, Empire Deluxe gives a much richer experience!
STANDARD rules opens up the flexibility and difficulty of the game. The starting menu gives you choices of how many opponents, who controls them (another player or computer, up to six total) and handicaps for production and combat, and finally the size of the world map (up to 150x200… massive for this game). Standard rules mode adds the FIGHTER, the SUBMARINE and the CARRIER units. STANDARD rules also introduces the fog of war, where the entire map is blacked out except your immediate surroundings. You’ll have to explore with your units to find out the best strategy for your starting locale. The units aren't all dumb either as you can set GO TO points, set PATROL areas, and a variety of other commands so you’re not micro-managing each move a unit makes per turn. This makes the game much more enjoyable when you have 50+ units on the map.
ADVANCED game mode is pretty much like STANDARD except it adds units the ARMORED unit and the BOMBER. Armored is a tougher unit than the ARMY and is the only other unit that can capture cities. The BOMBER is most other units’ worst nightmare, except the FIGHTER. I've seen dozens of transports loaded with heavy armor get sunk by enemy bombers.
Advanced mode on a large map with numerous opponents is where this game really shines. The AI is basic, but is relentless with survival. If you miss just one enemy city, that might be all that is needed for the tide of the war turn against you. Though the game is easier to win once you've got the larger number of units, the sheer size of maps and the slow movement of units makes you really think where you should have your units. I've experienced some edge-of-seat moments where I’m kicking ass then a dozen moves later I’m barely surviving because of an enemy attack on my far-off city snowballed into the AI capturing half my cities in the surrounding areas. Sending off patrol units and having air support is paramount for survival.
You may have noticed that there are only two land units, two air units, and six sea units. The game emphasizes the need to have a good naval force in order to win. The random maps have the land masses usually being small with a lot of water in between. You can only move your land units over water with the transports, and they are easy pickings from enemy air planes and warships. There are quite a number of strategies you need to employ in order to win the game. Air superiority, a large naval force, a good sized army… all are needed to win.
I’ll only briefly mention the world map editor, even though it offers a wide variety of editing options. You can paint to your heart’s content a new map and scenario you’d like to play. In fact, I don’t think it leaves anything out that you can’t place. Want to setup the D-Day invasion? Go for it!
The game has a number of fall downs that take it from 6/6 to 4/6 though. I’ve played Civilization a LOT, and that’s about as close to a game to this as I can use as a comparison. You can’t upgrade units or cities in Empire Deluxe. There’s also no technology tree and no ability to negotiate with enemies. What you see is what you get in Empire Deluxe. It doesn’t pretend to be a Civilization-clone, it’s a straight-up strategy game. Also I have to mention the music. Even though the music isn't particularly bad, the execution of how the music starts over after each movement of the unit makes listening to it worse than pulling teeth! (Mr Creosote mentions the same thing in his review.)
I have fond memories of playing Empire Deluxe, since it was the first strategy game I can remember playing on the PC back in the early 90s. If you want a basic strategy game, and don’t want to get into the micromanagement of a game like Civilization, but want more flexibility than Risk, then Empire Deluxe will be right up your alley.
Give it a whirl. Just make sure to leave judgment of the game after you play a round or two on advanced mode with 5 computer controlled opponents. That’s where the real meat of the game is.